Phloem networks in leaves

Mónica R Carvalho, Juan M Losada, Karl J Niklas
Current Opinion in Plant Biology 2018, 43: 29-35
The survival of all vascular plants depends on phloem and xylem, which comprise a hydraulically coupled tissue system that transports photosynthates, water, and a variety of other molecules and ions. Although xylem hydraulics has been extensively studied, until recently, comparatively little is known quantitatively about the phloem hydraulic network and how it is functionally coupled to the xylem network, particularly in photosynthetic leaves. Here, we summarize recent advances in quantifying phloem hydraulics in fully expanded mature leaves with different vascular architectures and show that (1) the size of phloem conducting cells across phylogenetically different taxa scales isometrically with respect to xylem conducting cell size, (2) cell transport areas and lengths increase along phloem transport pathways in a manner that can be used to model Münch's pressure-flow hypothesis, and (3) report observations that invalidate da Vinci's and Murray's hydraulic models as plausible constructs for understanding photosynthate transport in the leaf lamina.

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